Failure to Diagnose

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Failure to Diagnoses Cases

Brien Roche

Failure to Diagnose Presents Issues as To Cause

A doctor’s failure to promptly diagnose a condition may result in injury to a patient. A patient must have a 50% or better chance of survival or recovery in order to prove causation based upon a failure to diagnose.  Under the loss-of-chance doctrine, if the patient in fact had less than an even chance of survival or recovery then the doctor may be liable for the reduction in that chance.  This theory is set forth in a legal treatise known as the Restatement of Torts.  This states that if the doctor’s failure increases the risk of harm then she may be liable to the extent of that increase.

Not all states recognize the loss-of-chance doctrine.  It is a legal doctrine with authority behind it.  It can be pursued in the right case.

The evidence necessary to prove this form of causation is frequently difficult to elicit. Many doctors are not willing to express opinions on issues that some might deem to be guesswork.

Failure To Diagnose-Cardiac Problems

A frequent area of misdiagnosis is in the cardiac field. Coronary artery disease is frequently thought of as limited to men.  However it is a disease that effects many women.  It is important to know the signs and symptoms that a male presents when having a heart attack. They may be different with a female.  The classic male case includes severe, burning  pain, pain radiating down the left arm, a crushing type of pain in the chest area.  However women may initially present with symptoms of transient chest pain, upper abdominal pain, back pain, intense nausea, sweating and shortness of breath.

Common Risk Factors In Cardiac Misdiagnosis

The common risk factors for coronary artery disease are age, a history of smoking and high blood pressure.  In addition serum cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and a family history of heart disease.  Although these factors may be the same for both men and women, the risk increases dramatically with women who have diabetes.  There are a variety of tests that can and should be employed for diagnosing coronary artery disease. Likewise for determining whether the patient has had a heart attack:

  • A blood test to measure elevated cardiac enzymes.  If it is positive, that means that a heart attack has occurred.  A negative test, however, does not mean that a heart attack has not occurred or is not occurring.
  • An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a snapshot of the heart’s electrical activity.  It can reveal injury or problems.
  • An echocardiogram is a test that provides a picture of the heart based on sound waves.  It will show malfunctions in the contractions of the heart’s chambers.
  • Cardiac catheterization is the best way to study arteries and to diagnose coronary artery disease.  This test is performed by inserting a catheter into the vessel.  Dye is then injected into the arteries. It is traced by X-ray showing whether any of the vessels are damaged or narrowed.

In looking at cases involving males versus females you need to recognize the difference in signs and symptoms.

For Cardiac Misdiagnosis Cases Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you have been injured as a result of cardiac misdiagnosis, contact us. Also for more info on medical malpractice see the other pages on this site.

In addition for more info about heart attacks see the pages on Wikipedia

See proximate cause for a review of Virginia case law.
For more info on proximate cause see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Failure to Diagnose

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